The Ukraine conflict and the crisis with Russia will not go away if the EU eases or lifts the sanctions
Judy Dempsey asks Stefan Meister and other experts: Is Europe Wobbling Over Sanctions on Russia?
As part of her "Strategic Europe" blog for Carnegie Europe's website, Judy Dempsey asked a selection of foreign and security policy experts, including the DGAP's Stefan Meister, about whether the EU would continue its sanctions against Russia.
Read the entire entry here.
Question: Is Europe Wobbling Over Sanctions on Russia?
Stefan Meister Answers:
There are many different voices in the EU member states who question the effect of the EU’s sanctions against Russia and argue that they should be lifted as soon as possible. There is also a growing impression that relations with Russia are too important, that other crises in Europe and the Middle East are too challenging, and that the EU needs to fix at least this problem.
But this is an illusion, because the Ukraine conflict and the crisis with Russia will not go away if the EU eases or lifts the sanctions. It might alienate Ukrainian society from the EU even more than the April 6 referendum in which voters in the Netherlands rejected the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. At the same time, the Russian leadership will not give up its main sources of legitimacy—its conflict with the West and its description of the EU as a failed institution.
The question is: What weakens the EU more, lifting the sanctions with an incomplete implementation of the Minsk II agreement to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine, or facing the ongoing destruction of a united EU approach toward Russia? Both are attractive to the Kremlin. At the moment, the impression is that it is more interesting for Russian President Vladimir Putin to endure the sanctions and see European politicians outpace each other to chum up to him. If that goes on, the EU’s cohesion and credibility will reach a new low.
Stefan Meister heads the Center for Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia Program at the DGAP's Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia.
"Judy Asks: Is Europe Wobbling Over Sanctions on Russia?" Carnegie Europe Blog, June 1, 2016.